If you are headed somewhere it is really important that you know the way; or else, you are not going to get there. When Janine and I were in London doing some sight seeing a few years ago, we found ourselves in Piccadilly Circus, London. That night our path went in circles and I am not sure how we found it or how we found our way back to the hotel. I know I did something I used to be too proud to do most of the time. I asked for directions.
When I was a young Christian and a young man, I often opened my Bible to Psalm 42. It is identified as a Psalm of Korah in the Bible. As I recall, it says, “As the dear longs for water brooks so longs my soul for you oh God.” The refrain is, “Why are you cast down oh my soul… Hope in God who is the health of my smile” (my paraphrase). If I was struggling with something, this psalm gave me words to pray and the encouragement that I would be smiling again.
Later in life I began to pay attention to another Psalm of Korah, Psalm 84. Here the psalmist delights in the temple. If only he could be one of the birds that built nests in that ancient court so that he could be in God’s presence all the time. Speaking of being at temple was a way of speaking about being with God — in his presence, with everything we really need to be happy and therefore to wear a natural smile. I have found the most penetrating and enveloping encouragement in verse 5. It captures the movement of the psalm from home to temple through dry places to oasis, from standing against enemies alone to standing with the armies of God.
The New American Standard Bible (95) translates it with these words, “How blessed is the man whose strength is in You, In whose heart are the highways to Zion!” The image is that of a familiar road to God imprinted on the heart. There is no more aimlessly wandering around. I know exactly how to get there. The imprinted highway on my heart is not just a map; it’s the actual journey from beginning to end. I am that bird with a nest in the corner of where God sits on his throne. God is always with me.
Stephen Williams — January 26, 2021